The Seattle Times reports that the lawyers behind the tobacco lawsuits are girding for battle over soft drink contracts in the local schools.
Currently, Coca-Cola has an exclusive contract with the Seattle School board which allows them to sell their product in the district's schools. The school district receives almost $400,000 per year from this contract. The district is one of about 10 percent of all school districts which have an exclusive contract; about 90 percent of all schools allow carbonated beverages to be sold on school grounds.
This is not a quixotic one-man campaign; in addition to the letter from Washington University's Jon Banzhaf III, the school board has been warned by Seattle Attorney Dwight van Winkle, and the leader of a local anti-corporate pressure group is seeking to replace the current School Board president.
I am not a big fan of most of the corporate-sponsored school programs, but I have no objection to selling soda in school. Seeing a Coke machine is not the same thing as corporate PR masquerading as educational supplements. The people at CCCS need to get a grip and realize that the schools have more pressing issues than whether or not soda is available on campus. Be eliminating the contract, they will be punching a $400,000 hole in the schools budget, in a state that cannot afford any more budget issues.
UPDATE: I just took a look at the CCCS supporters list. It is, not surprisingly, comprised almost exclusively of extreme-left social agitation, environmental, and educational establishment groups. A little further digging in their site reveals that Dwight van Winkle (the local attorney mentioned in the Times article) was the CCCS candidate for School Board in 1999 (he apparently was defeated). I wonder if the reporter was even aware of the connection between Van Winkle and CCCS.
posted on July 03, 2003 03:33 PM